Always Follow Your Nose – Balancing the Doshas with Scents

Phrases of our daily speech like “Always follow your nose” or “I have a nose for that” underline the importance of our sense of smell. Interestingly, it tends to take a back seat among our other senses. Usually, we attach much more importance to sight in particular. And it is true: Without being able to smell, we would be much less impaired in everyday life than without being able to see.

Nevertheless, we should not underestimate the sense of smell!

There are olfactory mucous membranes on both sides of the nasal septum. These are equipped with olfactory sensory cells, which have receptors for about 350 different odorants. Our nose distinguishes more than 10,000 different scents. By comparison, the tongue can only recognize five tastes!

Scent stimuli are transmitted to the olfactory brain via nerve pathways. From there, they travel directly to the hypothalamus and the limbic system. In the limbic system is responsible for controlling our emotions and ensures that we learn things and store memories in our mind. This is where all incoming sensory information is coordinated and a response is triggered, which is transmitted to the autonomic nervous system. This in turn is responsible for digestion, metabolism and respiration.

Smells are not monitored by the cerebrum, but are transmitted directly to the limbic system. Our sense of smell is therefore the most immediate of our senses, and closely linked to memories and feelings.

We have all experienced this at one time or another: we smell the scent of a food that we associate with a great vacation; a perfume that reminds us of a loved one, and immediately images come to life in our minds.

But now that we know that smells can do much more than make us nostalgic, the conclusion is obvious that one can also influence the doshas through the sense of smell. And it’s true! Since scents affect our autonomic nervous system and every reaction has the characteristics of one or more doshas, we can respond to imbalances accordingly.


If you feel tired, weary, lethargic, or even melancholy, it may well be that your kapha dosha has taken over. The “cozy” of the doshas wants to be brought into swing! This works especially well with citrus aromas. Bergamot, lemon, orange and lemongrass have a mood-lifting effect and give you a little kick. Rosemary, camphor and juniper have a stimulating effect and are therefore ideally suited for Kapha balancing. Rosewood is also a good addition, as it is said to promote activity.


If the Pitta fire is burning so strongly that you are irritable, impatient and tense, cooling down is needed. All floral scents have a calming effect on Pitta. Also cooling are the aromas of mint, cypress, orange and geranium.


With Vata excess, we are often nervous, jumpy or even anxious. What we need in such situations is a balance that centers us again somewhat. If we would like to achieve this with fragrances, we can rely on the calming effect of roses, incense and vetiver. Lavender has a positive effect on the nervous system, while orange is not only calming, but also refreshing.

The fragrances can be used in a variety of ways: light an incense stick, vaporize essential oils in a diffuser or mix your own personal perfume from the oils, which you can apply whenever you need it. Aroma roll-ons are also a nice way to put scents to use.

With this topic, trial and error is especially fun – dare to experiment with the different aromas! Which variation will you try first?